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Joyride 150 – For when it’s too crummy outside to ride

I’ve recently rekindled my love for mountain biking after getting an entry level mountain bike at ann end of year sale. During that time I’ve tried to take it out on the Don Valley mountain biking trail even on the rare snowy days we’ve had here in Toronto. The problem is we’ve had a lot of mild weather and lots of rain meaning tons of mud and poor riding conditions. Fortunately, Joyride 150 gives riders a space to ride without the mud.

Joyride 150 is an all season multi-discipline bike park located in Markham, just north-east of Toronto. While the park features are tailored to the BMX and free-style crowd it does have trails designed for the mountain biker or cyclocross rider. The indoor facility is spacious and even had a gym with spinning studio. Lounge and eating space as well as a shop with tools and a bike stand help give the space more functionality for those who need a break or to do some repairs.

I went in during a dreary January afternoon to check out the XC (Cross Country) trail. As expected, I’m the only non-BMX rider as I tout a spandex tights and clipless shoes while the other users are coasting on the BMX bikes wearing jeans and sneakers. Needless to say nobody seemed to mind as the atmosphere was very relaxed which helped considering now nervous (and out of practice) I was. Though the trails are meant to simulate actual XC riding outdoors the feeling is much different than I anticipated. I got onto the trail and attempted to hop a log but snagged it and took a slight tumble but within a few minutes I was slowly adjusting and even took on the intermediate trail.

I brought my GoPro camera with me to record some of the action and though my speed was much slower than what I was used to several years ago I know with practice I’ll pick up the speed:

Joyride 150 is great for anyone looking for an alternative to recreational riding in mucky weather or for people looking to get into a different discipline of cycling (they offer bike and gear rentals as well as coaching). I definitely plan on going back a few more times in preparation for the spring riding season.

Posted: January 24th, 2012
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Mapping Toronto’s Hills

Hello bikesters,
long time no see. Things have been crazy busy for me over the past few months – quick recap: left the country then got bed ridden for a while, started a new job, got hit by a car, spent months doing physio, started another new job – but I’m back!

A while back, BlogTO wrote an article about the best/worst hills in Toronto for cyclists and I really liked the map but it seemed like it was missing a lot of information so I decided to build upon the idea. I’ve created a Google Map which will show a lot of hills in Toronto with a colour coding system to illustrate how steep each hill is along with information on elevation and length. I’m missing a lot of hills but I’m slowly adding information whenever I have the time. If you have any feedback on what to add, how to improve it, or which hills to add please feel free to comment.

The map can be found by clicking on this link.

View Toronto Cycling Routes and Hills in a larger map

Posted: August 22nd, 2011
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Hey everyone! It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted anything on Biking Toronto but I’ve been super busy finishing my undegrad and starting my new internship. During my downtime I’ve been doing a lot of tinkering with different things, this week I took a stab at screen printing. One of the prints that came out is this bike diagram taken from a really old manual featuring labels on main components of a bike and you could win it:

This was screen printed by hand on a piece of cloth.

When I reach 250 followers on Twitter I’ll host a raffle and give it away to one of my followers at random. To be eligible to win the print all you have to do is click on this link, hit the follow button and spread the word until I reach 250 followers.

Also, when I reach 300 followers one lucky person will also get the print screen printed on a t-shirt!

I also got another shirt design to give away too:

The shirt will be hand printed by me and the colour and print colour will be different and based on whatever materials I have around.

Thanks and happy biking!

Posted: February 17th, 2011
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DIY Milk Crate Pannier

Milk crates are one of the versatile objects around. They’re great at garage sales for storing dozens vinyl records, they are also great for sitting on while busking on the street. A lot of cyclists adorn these plastic boxes on their rear racks as cheap, sturdy and rust proof baskets. Unfortunately, because many of them are bolted or zip-tied onto the rack it prevents riders from using the sides of the racks for panniers or more baskets. My neighbour was throwing out some old trinkets in a milk crate so I managed to get a hold of one (along with an Ikea stool), rather than slapping it on the top of my rack I decided to turn it into a removable pannier. Here’s a quick (and easy) DIY on how to make your own for less than $10.

My Beater Bike ready for some grocery shopping.

What you will need:
-Milk crate
-Pannier clips (I got mine at MEC for $6)
-longer bolts and matching nuts
-zip ties
-power drill
-bungee cord

1. Pannier clips often have about 2 hooks or clips which attach onto the rails of the rear rack. These clips attach onto the pannier using 2~3 bolts. Find a place near the top of the crate where you can attach the clips onto making sure that the clips are parallel. Use the holes on the clips as reference points and drill holes in the crate, make sure these holes line up. The bolts will run through both the clips and the crate.

2. Chances are the bolts provided with the clip are too short to go through the crate so you will need longer ones (I used spare bolts I got from a fender set). Insert the bolts into the holes and tighten them in with a washer and nut. Use a wrench and a screwdriver or allen key (depending on the type of bolt used) to keep everything tight. Make sure there is no play and that everything is tight. If you mess up, don’t worry there are 3 other sides of the crate you can mess with.

3. If your bolts are too long you may need to cut them down using a bolt cutter and grind them down using a file to prevent things from getting caught on them like grocery bags or sleeves.

4. To keep the crate from jumping up and down whenever you hit a pot hole run a bungee cord around the leg of the rack and the crate to keep it in place.

5. Add reflectors for extra visibility, this is important because the width of your bike has now increased and drivers (and cyclists) need to be able to see that while passing.

That’s all there is to it! All you need to do now is slap it on and buy some beer or groceries!

Remember to keep in mind that your bike is now bigger than it is before and probably can’t maneuver its way around traffic like it used to. If the bolts start loosening up you may want to apply Loctite or nail polish to help keep them from loosening.

Posted: December 14th, 2010
Filed under: How to
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Ride Inside

The temperature in Toronto continues to drop and so does the mileage a lot of us put on the road. I’m sure most of us still plan on commuting through sleet and snow but for the most part a lot of us will be tapering down on our weekly riding time. But just because winter is coming doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to our hearty legs and toned butts. There are many ways to get some saddle time without having to bear with ice on the road or snow in the bike lanes, so if you want to get more riding time in this winter even in a blizzard here are a few ways how:

A bicycle trainer is a piece of equipment that a bike would mount onto so that the rider can pedal on the bike without actually going anywhere. Trainers easily install on the rear wheel of your bicycle and can provide various levels of resistance to the tire (or rim of the wheel) to simulate the rolling resistance you would feel pedalling on the road. Trainers are great because newer models provide various levels of resistance, are easy to install and require very little space to use and use. Trainers that add resistance to the rear tire are restricted to smooth (bald) tires so knobby mountain bike tires need to be swapped out. In addition, they do wear out normal tires very quickly so it is recommended to get tires specifically designed for the use on a trainer.

Here’s a youtube clip of a high-end Kinetic trainer

Bicycle rollers are very similar to trainers, the big difference is that the bicycle is not securely attached to the frame but rather rests on top of 3 cylinders or rollers. Rollers add a sense of reality to indoor riding compared to trainers as they force riders to maintain balance while riding rather than zone out while watching the TV, rollers are a great way to fine tune balancing. This may look very bizarre and unsafe but once after a few minutes of riding it gets easier. In the event you lose balance you don’t fly over the handlebars or anything like that, rather you would just topple over sideways since there is no forward momentum. Aside from the risk of tumbling, another drawback is space. Some rollers have folding frames for easy storage but others have rigid frames which are harder to tuck away.

Rollers may look hard but with a bit of practice and patience they will get easier to ride on

Spinning Class:
If you’re like me and you need a group setting to keep you pumped then joining a spinning class maybe right for you. A lot of gyms and fitness centres now offer spinning classes which feature large groups of people on stationary bikes (called spinning bikes) with an instructor at the front giving instructions on effort and keeping people energized. These classes are great because the instructor can really make you break a sweat and avoid giving you a monotonous workout.

Here’s a funny clip of how not to run a spinning class

For those who need to feel the wind in their face as they’re cranking up the pace there’s also riding on the velodrome or indoor cycling track. Riding a bike without gears or brakes on track with banked turns may seem intimidating but it’s actually very safe and a lot of fun. We’re very fortunate to have one of the few indoor velodromes in North America which is the Forest City Velodrome in London, Ontario. For a better look at track cycling check out my previous blog post.

Ricker Mercer at the Forest City Velodrome, if he can do it anybody can!

Posted: December 11th, 2010
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Mud, Poutine, and Cowbells

Dirt, mud, roots, loose gravel, steep hills and low hanging obstacles.

For most of us all of this is a recipe for an uncomfortable commute, but for the men and women in last week’s Cyclocross Championships it was a great ride. On November 6, local bike shop ZM Cycle & Fitness hosted the Canadian Cyclocross Championships in Cedarvale Park in Toronto. Racers from all over Canada competed for top honours in this national, UCI sanctioned race.

For the uninitiated, cyclocross is a gritty cycling race in which riders race along an off road course. Technical skill is important as they have to ride in tight quarters with each other but navigate around or through obstacles like barriers, roots, and ruts. Some barriers such as low walls or even stairs force riders off the bike making running and jumping a key element in cyclocross racing as well.

Cyclocross races are as much fun to watch as they are to race in as onlookers get to watch riders attempt to tackle some of the most difficult parts of the course whether it be bombing down a muddy hill or slaloming through trees and roots. To add to the fun, Smoke’s Poutinerie and Steam Whistle Brewery were on hand to fuel the audience throughout the race.

I took some photos and video footage of the race last week but I was having so much fun watching the racers and cheering them on that I didn’t do much shooting. Here are a few of the shots I took:

and here’s a short youtube clip of the action:

Posted: November 12th, 2010
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Cyclocross Crash

Yesterday, local bike shop ZM Cycle & Fitness hosted the national cyclocross race in Cedarvale Park in Toronto. The best cyclocross racers across Canada participated in the most grueling sport of mud, dirt and hills. I took some photos and video but here’s a sneak peak of what to expect:

Posted: November 7th, 2010
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Bike Parking at Ryerson University

Students and faculty at Ryerson University are very lucky to have one of the most exceptional examples of bicycle parking in all of Toronto. Ryerson’s campus features parking for roughly 1,000 bikes using racks, ring and posts, and an indoor parking facility. Unfortunately, for many campus commuters or cyclists heading down to the area it can be difficult to find available parking spots or even parking which can protect their bikes against rain or snow. While tinkering around with Google Maps I decided to take on a simple mapping project and map all the bike parking facilities in campus. The purpose is to illustrate common and not so common areas in which bikes are locked up, which ones provide cover and where some of the hard to find parking is.

The map can be found by clicking on this link.

View Bike Parking at Ryerson Campus in a larger map

Posted: September 30th, 2010
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Queen’s Park Grand Prix

Back in September 19, Queen’s Park was surrounded by the sounds of cheering fans and clanging cowbells for the Queen’s Park Grand Prix. Hosted by Hello Velo, the Queen’s Park GP offered everyone a chance to see Canadian professional cyclists like Ryeder Hesjedal and Michael Barry both being notable riders in this year’s Tour de France. The race also featured many Canadian Cycling teams such as Hello Velo’s Darkhorse Flyers, Jet Fuel Coffee, and Team Planet Energy to name a few. I was too busy watching and yelling during the race to take many photos but I did manage to shoot a few shots of the Pro-Am race:

Ryder Hesjedal at Hello Velo

Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) and Michael Barry (Team Sky) at the start line

Riders from local racing team Jet Fuel Coffee

Jet Fuel Coffee cyclists doing a warmup lap

Hello Velo’s cycling team the Darkhorse Flyers were also out in full force

Ryder Hesjedal warming up

Michael Barry leading the pack

Ryder Hesjedal hammering it with the lead group

Michael Barry speeding by

Michael Barry with the lead group despite having a broken rib.

Ryder chatting with fans after the race

and here are a few shots from the women’s masters race:

Posted: September 29th, 2010
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I just couldn’t wait until the Bixi bikes made their way to Toronto so I loaded up a backpack full of clothes and my camera and headed out on a road trip to Montreal to try them out. It was so worth it.

Bikeroo with his first ever Bixi Bike

The first thing I noticed when I got to Montreal was how many of Bixi bikes there were. I couldn’t go five minutes without seeing a docking station or someone riding one of these bikes. I loved how convenient it was to just walk up to a station and start riding away. Going around Montreal by Bixi had to have been the best way to explore the city since it was cheap, speedy and fun!

Taking the bike for a spin

Visiting Old Montreal by Bixi

The whole Bixi system was really easy to use and was accessible both in English and in French. The stations provided information on how to use the bikes as well as the number of bikes available at neighbouring stations including a map of the area.

Bixi docking station

The Bixi bikes are a lot of fun to ride and I can’t wait until they start rolling in Toronto. The 3-speed Nexus hub, drum brakes, dynamo-lights, fenders, basket and all the other accessories on the bike not only look great but also work really well and will definitely be put to good use here in Toronto.

Physically separated bike lane in Montreal

What makes biking in Montreal great is the abundance of various forms of cycling infrastructure, hopefully with the critical mass of people riding bicycles thanks to Bixi we may be able to see separated bike lanes in TO too.

Physically separated bike lane in Montreal

Posted: September 2nd, 2010
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